On March 5 of this year, we will have been in Canada for two years. We have lived in 3 different provinces and had some pretty amazing experiences!
I’ve been homesick for a long time. We left behind friends and people that we felt were our family. My boys no longer cry that they want to go home. Every now and then Chesney who is now 7, will say something to indicate that he misses our old home. Once we were watching a show and they were going on a plane. He said “We need to go on a plane and see Papa Tony!”
I’m pretty excited to be goin home for a visit. It’s only for two weeks but its still exciting. Even more exciting is that I am going without the kids. I’m also taking a friend with me.
I will be vlogging about our trip. I have several topics ready for my vlog.
My friend and I area also heading to Haiti for a few days as well. I’m so excited about this! Ive never been to Haiti yet! We are also going to Dajabon, where the market on the Haitian border is. I want my friend to experience that!
Ive been buying shorts at the second hand store and the few things that I will need for the trip. I bought my tickets in December. I got a direct flight from ou home city of Edmonton to Punta Cana for $600 return.Which is a great price. The cheapest I could find return tickets to Puerto Plata was $1200 and that included a 19 hour stop over in Toronto. The bs from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata will cost no more than $40. I dont mind taking the bus. I’d also like to see what Punta Cana is like since I have never been there.
I will be staying with friends, so no need to au for hotels. We do have a couple of hostels and hotels booked for Punta Cana (2 nights), and Santo Domingo. However all the hotels and hostels didn’t cost more than $30 in total. I used a $50 credit we had from hotels.com for booing some of the rooms.
Food will be cheap as well. I have budgeted $20 per au for everything including food.
I feel i need to teach my children the importance of giving back to the communities that we live and to those less fortunate than we are. I try to let the kids see me doing this everywhere we go.
Giving back to the communities that we are in can be small things such as volunteering for a local organization,, helping a neighbour or buying a school uniform for a child in need. I believe that we need to be the change we want to see in the world. Our children need to see this modelled so that they will do the same when they get older. This is how we make the world a better place and global citizens!
For the past month, our family has been heading downtown every Sunday to feed the homeless. The group that we are doing this with calls it a Sidewalk Party. We set up in front of the homeless shelter for those in life for a bed. Everyone that comes to volunteer, brings something to share. It can be as small as a bag of chips or leftovers from last nights supper.
Two weeks ago, I posted on Facebook that I was looking for donations of purses and handbags for me to fill with toiletries and hand out to homeless women. Just from doing that, I was able to get donations of hamburge,pasta, toothpaste, toothbrushes, purses, backpacks, handbags, sleeping bags, shoes, coats and so much more!
So this Sunday, our family is taking a car load of things down to share with those less fortunate. We have decided to take the purses and backpacks down down on another day to hand out to those that we see that need them. I don’t want to get swarmed and not have enough.
I will make a 5 gallon pail full of pasta salad from donations for the crew on Sunday.
My kids love being down there and visiting with everyone. Everyone that is down there is so polite and happy! This is one of our favourite things to do during the week!
We have a set budget of $800 per month no matter where we are located. This is a pretty low budget for most but it works for us. I find that sticking to our budget is no different than setting a budget and sticking to it when you live a conventional life. Our budget is all about choices.
Everything we do is a choice. Every choice we make, affects our budget and how we live. For example I could choose to spent $500 on a beautiful Airbnb home that I found online. It wouldn’t leave us much for anything else but it COULD be done. It would be a choice for me to make.
Since we are on an ultra low budget, I normally don’t even look on Airbnb.com for places to rent. They are most often out of our budget. I do find cheap local hotels for a few nights and book a few nights there. ONce we are there we set out to find a house to rent locally. We walk around the neighbours and take photos of the For Rent Signs so we have the phone numbers later. We then ask a local to call the numbers for us and ask how much the rent is for them. They usually get a cheaper rate than if I called and asked. The owners would assume that I am a tourist and give me the tourist rate which is much higher than the local rate. In bigger cities, it doesnt hurt to ask for a discount in exchange for some kind of work. I’ve offered to cut the lawn in an entire complex for a reduction in rent.
You can also try to find your own workaway opportunities wherever you are. BY keeping my eyes open and wandering around the area and talking to people, I’ve been able to find local workaway like opportunities for our family. Getting discounted rent in a basement suite for helping a disabled man (washing dishes, laundry, light housekeeping, mowing the yard etc).
We almost always cook our own meals. We usually buy our food at the local market. We bring our own snacks and lunch when we go out for the day. We also bring water bottles for drinks while we are out. We try to eat like locals as much as possible. The more import foods you buy the more expensive your bill will be. Usually there is some local alternative that is similar to what you’re used to. Try it and you might just like it.
Depending on where we are, we often will just go to the Internet cafe for a few hours to get work done online, rather than getting internet in the house. Especially if we have to get a new hook up and the company wants deposits and possibly a contract.
I have a cheap flip phone that is unlocked that I bought from Walmart. No one wants to steal this phone! No worry of anyone trying to steal it. I get a local SIM card and put it in to the phone and then buy minutes as I need them. I use this phone to make local calls. It’s also good because if we are out and don’t speak the language, I can ask someone to call a business for me and not have to worry about them running off with my phone. I do have an iPhone that I keep in the bottom of my bag. I mostly use it in the house and to take the odd photo in a pinch.
We travel with 2 iPad minis. One is my 6 year old son’s for school. He has educational apps on his iPad that he likes to play. He also can watch Treehouse kids shows and Netflix if we have wifi that is strong enough. I have an iPad with lots of memory that I use for everything. I also have a small Bluetooth keyboard that I use for typing. I use the iPad for everything from blogging and vlogging to reading ebooks and watching movies. I can make and open word documents and all other office documents as I have those apps on my iPad. I like that it takes up so much less space.
We try to keep our baggage to carry on only. This helps cut costs when flying on discount airlines. A lot of airlines now are charging extra baggage or are heading in that direction.
We try to find as many cheap and low cost things to do as possible. The beach, nature walks, walking through local neighbourhoods etc. When there are attractions that are more expensive, try to find out if its cheaper to go on your own rather than with a tour. Also consider calling and asking if they offer discounts. Look online for coupons and other discounts as well. It can’t hurt to ask for a discount, the worst they can say is NO!
My best advice is set a budget that you can realistically manage and stick to it. It’s no different that if you were in a conventional house. If we lived in a house and I only made $1,500 a month for example, would would have to make that budget work for us. We’d have to make choices to ensure that we could afford to live where were living within our budget. It’s no different for full time travel.
Since our budget is ultra low, I like to use http://www.numbeo.com to check cost of living in the places we want to go and compare them to our home city or other places where I know the cost of living. This allows me to anticipate if our ultra low budget will be easily achievable in the place we are going to or if I will need to find some free places to stay like workaway or house sitting to save some money while we are there.
We have been spending the summer in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We love this city for families because there are so many free things to do!
Edmonton is known as the Festival Capital of Alberta. There is a different festival every week for the entire summer. Most of the festivals are free or have components that are free.
When we got here, we tracked down an old friend who can get us a bus pass for a discount. For $50 we get a monthly bus pass instead of the $91 that it would cost at full cost. Having the bus pass lets us get all around Edmonton at no cost other than buying the bus pass. It costs $3.25 per person per 1.5 hours on the bus. So the bus pass is a great deal for us. The Edmonton Transit System also offers a day pass that is $(.50 and is valid for one adult and up to 4 kids up to age 12. Sometimes you can find discounted bus passes on the local buy and sell groups on facebook or on Kijiji.ca
We spent a few days at the Street Performers Festival in Churchill Square. There is a nice kids area with open ended toys for the kids to play with. A story reading area and lots of volunteers to help the kids if they need help with anything. As well there is usually a kids act going on in the kids area. The day we were there, a balloon artist was in the kids in area and made the kids swords totally free. All the street performers that are at the festival make their living on donations. We try to donate what we can but it isn’t required to enjoy the event. While we are down at Churchill square, we like to cross the road and spend some time at the City Hall wading pool on hot days. There are change rooms and bathrooms. Food and drink is available from the food court in the City Centre Mall. The Dollarama is closed for renovations until the fall but it will be open next summer. It is a great spot to get water, snacks and water toys for the wading pool!
Art on Whyte and Sand on Whyte are two small events that are held together on Whyte Ave. Art on Whyte has all kinds of local artists selling their art and making their art on the sidewalks around Whyte Ave. It is a nice event to walk around and enjoy what you see. Talk to the artists and have a nice day out. Sand on Whyte has some pretty amazing sand sculptures on display. In the same area there is a small sand box for the kids to try their hand at sand sculpting. As well about 3 blocks from all this is a great playground and splash park. It was the perfect place to cool off after a hot day in the sun!
We’ve been enjoying spending hot days at the Legislature Wading Pools. They are easy to access from almost anywhere in the city. Take a bus downtown and catch the train to Grandin Station. Another option is take the bus to the nearest train station and take the train to Grandin Station. Follow the signs for Gov’t Centre. The pedways will lead you through to the wading pools. If you walk past the doors going out to the wading pools, towards the washrooms, you will find a really cool old plane hanging from the ceiling and some pretty interesting displays about Canadian Government. There is also a large Lego model of the legislative building that the kids like to check out. Once you get outside there are 4 different pools that you can explore. There isn’t much for food in the area. Usually an ice cream vendor and a hot dog vendor. We like to bring a picnic lunch and bring our own snacks. There is a water bottle filling station and a water fountain in the area. There are bathrooms as well.
Edmonton Public Library has some great libraries with great kids areas. The main branch is being renovated at the moment. It should be done by 2020. In the mean time, the Clareview Library, Meadows, and Millwoods Branches have nice kids areas. Computers and iPads for the kids to play games on, toys and games.
A few days ago, we took the bus downtown and caught the Sherwood Park 401 bus from in front of Telus Tower and caught the double decker bus. With our bus pass we only had to pay $1 extra. The kids loved it! We sat upstairs and saw so much.
The John Walter Museum offers free tours on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Edmonton Art Gallery has free days two evenings a week.
There are often free pancake breakfasts around the start of K-Days in July.
I find so many great free things to do in Edmonton, just by Googling Free Things to do in Edmonton this week.
There are lots of things to do in Edmonton for families. It’s worth it to stay in the city for a week in the summer and it doesn’t have to cost a lot.
We are happily welcoming the warmer weather that has come our way!
Weve been spending lots of time outside going for walks and playing in the yard.
Over the long weekend we drove to Alberta for a quick visit. It looks like we might be moving back to Alberta!
Plans are in the works for the fall!!